Finding a product testing lab with the right product scope, price range and accreditation is challenging – especially as a small business or startup. In my experience, they sometimes don’t even bother responding to smaller businesses.
To better understand what it takes to find a qualified lab, and what that means in practice, we reached out to Testxchange – a lab test booking platform based in Germany.
Is it generally better to work with a single lab or spread out testing over multiple lab testing companies?
Most customers prefer to have everything done in one lab. This way, they only need to send samples to one address, and usually get one single test report with all the results.
In reality, however, it is often very hard to find one single laboratory to meet all the requirements.
Thus, various labs need to be found, contacted, briefed and paid one by one, samples need to be sent to each of them, and the testing process needs to be managed with each one individually until finally all test reports can be collected.
An easy alternative to this process is to just contract Testxchange as your single supplier for everything related to testing. You simply need to describe the services you need via one short online form.
Then you receive an offer, and after accepting it, Testxchange takes care of the entire project, which can save you a lot of time and money.
For companies who prefer organizing their testing projects themselves, the platform also offers a free lab search, where suitable partners can be searched using keywords such as testing standards, test objects, testing machines, etc., as well as various filters.
Finding labs this way is usually easier than browsing accreditation databases or searching on Google, where the results are heavily influenced by the labs’ SEM budgets.
Is it reasonable to expect that testing companies help with confirming applicable standards and regulations for a certain product?
Many testing and certification projects are highly complex, and it is not immediately clear which tests are needed. Products with radio connectivity such as 4G/5G mobile terminals, for example, require elaborate test plans.
Very often manufacturers hope that the experienced test engineers from testing laboratories can also advise them about putting these plans together and about which tests they actually need for putting their products to market.
The problem with that approach is that such consulting usually is not part of the lab’s scope of service, even though the lab staff may be very knowledgeable on the topic.
Thus, labs usually prefer to skip time-consuming consulting sessions and instead sell the client more tests than are actually required, just to “be on the safe side”.
An automated solution like an online platform can help both sides to be safe and save money by determining which tests are needed, and only performing those.
How do I know if a testing company provides a ‘reasonable’ quotation?
Comparing different offers from labs in different countries, if possible, is always a good idea to get an overview of market prices for the tests you need.
Testxchange works with hundreds of labs from all over the world, which allows you to get competitively priced offers without needing to contact dozens of labs individually. Just submitting one free testxchange request is enough.
What are some ways to reduce lab testing costs?
The more flexible you are in terms of the lab’s geographic location, the better. For some tests, the prices between labs in certain European and Asian countries can vary considerably.
Another important piece of advice is to thoroughly check which tests you actually need. Does the testing lab need to be accredited?
Does the sample need to be conditioned in a climate chamber for 6 months, or are 3 months sufficient?
Do you really need to identify all the exact ingredients of your liquid sample, or can you just have it checked for 2 or 3 important substances instead? And do the relevant regulations actually require you to perform a certain test?
Answering these questions in advance can make a huge difference in terms of testing costs.
How do I assess if a lab testing company is qualified?
One common criteria for choosing a testing lab is to check if it has an ISO 17025 accreditation, which is meant to ensure certain quality standards.
A second criteria is to check the lab’s accreditation scope. Does it include the testing standards that are relevant for your project?
Many manufacturers also prefer to trust the well-known brand names of big international testing companies. But these do not always offer better service quality than smaller labs.
In fact, there are so many mergers and acquisitions going on in the testing world that many labs which carry a big brand are just small labs that have recently been acquired by one of the “big players”, followed by a rebranding. In sum, the brand name is not the most relevant criteria to find the best lab.
In addition to accreditation, some testing can also require approval from certain organizations or local authorities such as FCC or GCF/PTCRB, which only a limited number of selected labs have.
What are some signs that a lab testing company is not qualified or reliable?
If a laboratory does not have the test you need in its accreditation scope, you should put more effort into making sure that they have understood your testing requirement. One good indicator for this would be previous experience with this type of testing.
Some labs, for example, do not offer full testing according to a standard but simplified pre-testing, which uses a similar method.
If the lab has neither accreditation nor experience with the services you need, this might be a reason to reconsider the choice. If the lab is not able to commit to a reasonable timeline, or if it is hard to reach a contact person in the first place, this can be a red flag as well.
Testxchange is a networking platform for the “Testing, Inspection & Certification” (TIC) industry, which brings together service providers and clients. Both sides save time and money by using the SaaS platform, not only to find each other faster and easier but also to digitally manage their projects more efficiently. Clients learn which tests their products require and which service providers offer them.
Providers, in turn, digitalize their processes and market themselves better online. Any company looking for testing or certification services can submit their requests for free at www.testxchange.com.